It Had To Be Ewe

I think I may have mentioned somewhere here that Willow is the Spawn of Satan.

I awoke this morning with a sinus headache that would have killed an elephant. The medication for that makes me a bit loopy (okay, dopey) but it worked, and off the dogs and I drove to our weekly private training session with the World’s Most Amazing Dog Trainer, hereafter more simply referred to as MPS (my personal savior, to whom I have given over not only my puppy but, after today, my soul). He is my Cesar.

MPS is teaching me to teach Willow leash manners and a chain of command strategy upon which we will build so that we might override with training the strongest prey drive I’ve ever seen in an animal not on the National Geographic Channel. The method is gentle but firm, all about teaching her impulse control through obedience. But before sessions begin, MPS believes that she benefits from a short time to exercise her so-called restless spirit by allowing her to run and play with a giant fluffy white LabraDoodle in a fully fenced area of about an acre. Fully fenced except for the teeny space about the size of a toddler’s hand between the galvanized steel gate and the moss covered cedar gate post through which she made her escape this morning.

You know that feeling of watching the horrific event unfold in seemingly slow motion but also at the speed of light? And the equally awful awareness that seeps into your consciousness that you are helpless to catch the puppy running at a break neck pace toward the neighbor’s sheep pasture because in your slowness and haste the humans are crashing into each other and bashing the gate closed with each attempt?

We are running like sprinters wearing clown shoes over slimy leaves toward the sounds of sheep baas, small dog yips, and cloven hooves pummeling the ground. MPS has leapt over the fence already. I can see as I skid to a halt at the fence a tiny white dog herding unsheared, dirty brown terrified sheep, and a man in a formerly pristine black Patagonia fleece now covered with sheep muck chasing the little white dog chasing the sheep.

Willow! Willow! We call. Her name could be anything. This is The Best Thing she has ever experienced in her life. This is the E Ticket at Disneyland for hunting dogs. The Grail. Discovering Atlantis.

For the man, the sheep, and the woman who owns the sheep and who has now come to the pasture with a shotgun, this is most definitely Not The Best Thing.

Willow has culled one ewe from the herd and has her cornered. The ewe butts her a few times but the dog is not dissuaded. Willow is, however, standing her ground, and MPS quite nimbly swoops in and scoops her up by the collar. I hop (okay, I don’t hop, I scramble, my days of leaping anything taller than a twig long past) the fence and grab Willow from MPS. She is unharmed, the sheep are unharmed even if unnerved. We apologize to everyone and take what seems like our first breath since the Great Escape.

Back at the training barn, the correlation between her chances of survival and the need for more accelerated training is glaringly obvious. Willow is moving in with MPS for a month. I made a commitment to this dog the day I brought her home. For her safety and the safety of anyone else, she needs a truly experienced hand. Although I have always trained my own dogs, were I to let my ego rule, Willow will never be the kind of dog she deserves to be: alive, safe, obedient and a good companion. As a client of mine once said of his personal manager, “he might be Satan but he’s our Satan.”

Ironically, her breeder sent me an email yesterday with photos of the available puppies from three new litters. Since Willow was doing well in her training, he wondered, did I have any jealous friends who might want a puppy just like her?

Maybe I should send him this story.

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14 comments

  1. The Hook · January 10, 2014

    “I think I may have mentioned somewhere here that Willow is the Spawn of Satan.”
    Brilliant!

  2. doggess76 · December 5, 2013

    I want to get a hula hoop for Ruby.

    • Going To The Dogs · December 5, 2013

      Cheapest toy and easiest thing to teach. Really helps reinforce the command structure in a fun way for dog and human. Ruby will love it

  3. Lara Elizabeth · November 20, 2013

    Oh, naughty Willow! I unwittingly ended up with a JRT/Border Collie mix as my new adoptee. Some call them Border Jacks – I am partial to Borderline Terror.

  4. Mungai and the Goa Constrictor · November 18, 2013

    My Jack Russell behaves in much the same way as Willow. Unfortunately he is now thirteen and will never change – but we love him anyway. He’s fun! Great story as usual – thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Going To The Dogs · November 19, 2013

      Oh, Amelia, this morning the carpenter accidentally let her out the front door and off down the road she went again. This time, she dashed across the road, through the neighbor’s horse pastures, then to the next neighbors pig sty (new little piglets and a very large sow that I thought might kill her) and then she stood transfixed in front of the chicken house. That’s how I caught her. Funny how running full speed in my fuzzy wool slippers through pastures, sties and coops didn’t leave me breathless or achy. Guess I had as much adrenaline as she did. I must admit, she did appear to be having the time of her life. Can’t say the same for the poor livestock she was terrorizing. I am ever hopeful of a break through………..

      • Mungai and the Goa Constrictor · November 19, 2013

        Your life sounds hilarious, Lisa! There will be a breakthrough, though – old age and the odd dog-shock changes everything! Do not despair! My property is very secure, with loads of room for the dogs – especially one little Jack Russell. But, no! It was never enough. He burrowed under fences, climbed into small trees overhanging the fences and sat by the garden gates or house door (opening on to the village), constantly waiting for the right opportunity. And, he found lots of opportunities. We had to search for him everywhere. We would find him, or someone else would, and he would hear and see us, look at us, wait for us to approach, and whoosh! – he’d be gone again. The chase could last for hours. He only ceased this disgraceful Jack Russell behaviour after finally getting out and being hit by a passing truck. He was very badly hurt. But… there was a slight chance of him being mended. The vet offered two options; the £4,000 version or the £2,000 version. Not being terribly flush for cash at the time, I opted for the latter. In hindsight, not the best choice. But, he is is fine now. Well… he’s a bit wonky and he minces – bless him. And, one back leg faces slightly the wrong way! But, on the upside, he has never attempted escape again and is constantly by my side! And, of course, we are very grateful he is still here 🙂

      • Going To The Dogs · November 20, 2013

        And all that is part of their charm. You either love the breed or you hate them. Never met anyone who was neutral about them. Had a good day today. She jumped through hula hoops at our training session. Once she caught on, she loved it. Was so tired she slept all the way home. 🙂

      • Mungai and the Goa Constrictor · November 21, 2013

        There you are! All going in the right direction. 🙂 🙂

  5. muckcreekkennels · November 18, 2013

    Mmm. Lamb Chops! 🙂

  6. Atall CeeL · November 16, 2013

    Cute 🙂

    • Going To The Dogs · November 16, 2013

      Thanks. The dog is exhausted. I am drinking an entire bottle of wine. 🙂

      • Atall CeeL · November 16, 2013

        really? 😀

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